Water filtration systems may not be uppermost in dealers’ minds when first specifying for a project, but they are nonetheless important. Nowadays with sustainability in the forefront for many in the foodservice industry, dealers are having to field enquiries about how operators can make their kitchens more efficient, and water filtration is a vital part of this.
Harlow-based manufacturer European WaterCare is one firm driving this conversation. According to sales and marketing director, Dan Twiss: “A key factor to consider when discussing sustainability in relation to water filtration is the importance that must be placed on the protection offered to the equipment, suppliers and operators.
“With the correct water filter fitted and exchanged at the required intervals, catering equipment will remain clear of scale and operationally sound. Equipment left untreated will suffer the effects of limescale build-up, leading to increased energy loads and the inevitable servicing of parts or replacement of equipment. All of these scenarios have an impact on the carbon footprint of appliances and operators and lead to a negative impact on the environment. So maintaining a well-planned, preventive maintenance programme cannot be underestimated.”
Twiss feels that at the heart of the water filter business across all suppliers, there is a basic principle of replacement and exchange. This, in itself presents both opportunities and threats for both water filter suppliers, equipment distributors and operators when considering sustainability and the potential impact to the environment such products represent.
Suppliers may look to offer either a strong recycling programme or offer products that require only the internal components (or refill) to be replaced, reducing the impact of manufacturing as well as potential waste of expired filter refills.
“WaterCare stands out from the crowd in this regard by manufacturing its products in the UK, reducing carbon emissions and minimising ‘air miles’ or transport costs,” said Twiss. “In addition to this, installers can be confident when fitting a water filter from WaterCare, whether that be a CTU or an iX Water filter, that the product is either fully recycled once exchanged or, in the case of the iX Water filters, that only the internal media is replaced, minimising waste. Even in the case of the iX, either the internal refill can be returned to us to be regenerated and recycled or the entire cartridge can be returned and fully recycled.”
European Watercare ensures that the environmentally friendly ethos continues back up the supply chain, and it is endeavouring to help reduce the production and use of single plastics.
Twiss explained: “Our aim is to regenerate, recycle and reuse materials at the end of each service life. Our products demonstrate this goal. Once expired and returned, the ion exchange resin within our CTU water filters is regenerated and the vessels, heads and connectors are refurbished or replaced. Parts not refurbished are recycled on-site for use in future manufacturing of our own products and new parts.
“The regenerated CTU will then re-enter the marketplace, as new, to treat water and protect equipment with no waste; a genuine, fully reusable and sustainable product for an environmentally cleaner future.”
Furthermore, the firm’s iX water filter range contains replaceable, media inserts whilst the outer housing stays connected to equipment. By only replacing the media insert, the filter stays on site, which is designed to extract maximum value and use from the plastic housing. Meanwhile, the insert is returned, recycled and the resin regenerated to produce a ‘100% recyclable product’.
Another major British-based supplier is Aqua Cure. Also underlining that water filtration systems help with eco-friendly appliance installations by maintaining the equipment’s efficiency in the long term, marketing manager Richard Stephenson emphasised: “Over time, limescale build-up on heating elements can dramatically affect the energy efficiency of any piece of equipment which heats water.
“To use an oft-quoted stat from British Water, just 1.6mm of limescale on a heating element can reduce its efficiency by up to 12%. This means the element has to work harder to heat the same volume of water, increasing its energy consumption and significantly reducing its working life.”
This is such a serious issue that as of 2014, UK Building Regulations (part L1A/L1B new and existing dwellings) states that in new builds, the feed water to any water heaters and boilers needs to be treated to prevent limescale formation. This conserves energy by maintaining the system at ‘day one’ efficiency levels.
Less scale formation also means fewer chemicals are required for descaling which, with descaler often being highly acidic and difficult to dispose of safely, is a definite environmental benefit.
Aqua Cure supplies the Pentair Everpure range of water filters to the UK market, and reports that Pentair’s team strives to ensure every product is as energy and water efficient as possible to promote sustainability and responsibility.
In terms of materials, the water filter cartridges in Everpure’s ‘silver can’ range are made from recyclable aluminium with numerous sizes available depending on application or volume of water, which should mean a lower material cost per litre of water treated.
Pentair Everpure also believes it has made a recent breakthrough in reverse osmosis (RO) membrane efficiency. Its Conserv 75E (for espresso applications) and 75S (for steam applications) systems are billed as high efficiency RO’s due to their 50% recovery rate. Some domestic RO systems can send as much as 85% of the water that goes into them to drain. Aqua Cure marketing manager Richard Stephenson commented: “Though the Conserv has a higher initial cost, the relatively infrequent annual/biannual filter/membrane changes mean that it potentially has a lower cost of ownership than cartridge based systems in higher volume water applications.”
Aqua Cure makes use of social media to promote the environmental credentials of its water filtration systems. It has created several long read pieces on its website which are in regular rotation on all its social media channels.
Stephenson added: “In foodservice applications the eco benefits are long term and the solutions are often site or water type dependent. As such, we tend to liaise directly with our customers and identify the best product for their requirements before conveying the benefits.
“That said, we have recently launched a revised Coffee Lover’s Guide to Water Treatment which now includes a water hardness map to help dealers and end users ascertain at a glance whether a site is in a hard water area and thus could improve equipment efficiency by installing a scale control water treatment system.”